Erick Cabaco and Borja Mayoral were on target as Levante beat Barcelona 2-1 in the first leg of their Copa del Rey’s last-16 tie.
Barcelona are at risk of a last-16 exit from the Copa del Rey after a 2-1 first-leg loss at Levante left their trophy defence in doubt.
Memories of the 5-4 thriller at Ciutat de Valencia last season that cost Ernesto Valverde’s men an unbeaten LaLiga campaign came flooding back during an end-to-end first half in which Levante thrived.
Jeison Murillo and Chumi, afforded opportunities amid a raft of Barca changes, floundered at the heart of defence and the hosts took full advantage, storming to an early two-goal advantage thanks to Erick Cabaco and Borja Mayoral.
The absence of Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez hampered the holders’ hopes of extracting a result although they do have a goal to take back to Camp Nou on January 17 thanks to Philippe Coutinho’s potentially pivotal 85th-minute penalty.
Barca’s experimental defensive partnership of debutant Murillo, on loan from Valencia, and teenager Chumi came unstuck in the fourth minute as Cabaco rose unchallenged to head in Ruben Rochina’s free-kick.
4’GOAL! Levante 1-0 Barcelona (Cabaco)
GOAL! Levante have taken the lead after only three minutes! Rochina’s wonderful left-footed delivery from the left wing is perfectly placed for Cabaco to head home from the centre of the penalty area. Cillessen stood no chance. 1-0.
13′ Excellent save from Cillessen!
HUGE CHANCE! How have the home side not doubled their lead?! Coke does exceptionally well to burst beyond Miranda down the right-hand side and slide the ball across goal from an acute angle. Boateng manages to get something on the pass, but somehow his effort is hit straight at Cillessen from only a few yards out. Massive opportunity.
17’GOAL! Levante 2-0 Barcelona (Mayoral)
GOAL! Levante have now doubled their lead! Boateng picks the ball up in space just outside of the Barca penalty area before dinking it in behind for Mayoral to run onto. The Spaniard controls the ball brilliantly and calmly slots his finish into the bottom left corner of the net. Once again, Cillessen could do little about it. 2-0.
20′ CLOSE! Dembele’s shot saved
CHANCE! Dembele is played through by Alena, but he fails to beat Fernandez when one-on-one as the goalkeeper dives down low to his right to deny the Frenchmen. Big opportunity for the away side.
64′ WHAT A CHANCE! Morales’ shot over the bar
WHAT A CHANCE! Morales almost makes an instant impact moments after coming on! Rochina slides the ball through for the attacker, who, when one-on-one with Cillessen, sends the ball over the roof of the net with a left-footed effort from the middle of the penalty area. That is a golden opportunity.
85’Penalty Goal! Levante 2-1 Barcelona (Coutinho)
GOAL! The visitors have pulled one back! Suarez brilliantly dribbles beyond two Levante defenders before cutting inside where he is impeded from behind by Coke just inside the penalty area. Coutinho steps up and calmly strikes the ball into the bottom left corner of the net. Fernandez dived the right way but failed to get a hand to it. 2-1.
Levante XI: Coke, Aitor Fernández, Rubén Rochina, Postigo, J.Campaña, Prcic, C.Rodríguez, M. Simon, Cabaco, E.Boateng, Mayoral
Subs: P.López, Doukouré, Toño, Morales, Jason, Koke, R. Dwamena
Barcelona XI: Vidal, Sergio Busquets, Philippe Coutinho, Jeison Murillo, Jasper Cillessen, Semedo, Carles Aleñá, O. Dembélé, Malcom, Chumi Brandariz, Juan Miranda
Subs: M. ter Stegen, S.Roberto, D.Suárez, Lenglet, Arthur, M. Wagué, Riqui Puig